Who knew that Paul McCartney originally referred to Yesterday as ‘Scrambled Eggs’ because he couldn’t think of any lyrics for his heart-breaking tune? Or that Patti LaBelle didn’t know what ‘Voulez-vous couches avec moi ce soir?’ actually meant?
These and countless other fascinating back stories of some of our best-known and best-loved songs fill this book, a collection of the highly successful weekly The Life of a Song columns that appear in the FT Weekend every Saturday.
Each 600-word piece gives a mini-biography of a single song, from its earliest form (often a spiritual, or a jazz number), through the various covers and changes, often morphing from one genre to another, always focusing on the ‘biography’ of the song itself while including the many famous artists who have performed or recorded it.
The selection covers a wide spectrum of the songs we all know and love – rock, pop, folk, jazz and more. Each piece is pithy, sparkily written, knowledgeable, entertaining, full of anecdotes and surprises. They combine deep musical knowledge with the vivid background of the performers and musicians, and of course the often intriguing social and political background against which the songs were created.